The Top 10 Things to do in Byron Bay, NSW and Surrounds
The easternmost point of Australia's mainland has come a long way from its origins as a humble hippy town; while it still retains an alternative vibe and laid-back atmosphere, Byron Bay is a true up-and-coming Aussie travel spot due to its combination of outstanding beaches, wonderful scenic outlooks, lush greenery and family-friendly, uncrowded environment.
Looking for all the best tours, attractions and other things to do in Byron Bay?
Boasting a spectacular stretch of coast that has been carefully developed to add facilities without detracting from its beauty, Byron serves as a pleasant, low-key alternative to the busier and more commercialised resort towns and cities located further north. Add in some additional tourist-friendly construction in terms of walkways, modern cafes and restaurants, and a range of arts and crafts stores and it's apparent that “Balance” is the key to keeping Byron Bay such an enjoyable place for a getaway.
Throw in wonderful weather all-year-round and an increasingly robust nightlife scene, and you'll be spoiled for choice with a visit to Byron. If you're planning a visit to Byron Bay for the first time and are not quite sure how to best spend your time at this Northern NSW oasis, take a look at our list of the Top 10 Things to do in Byron Bay and surrounds here.
Vision Wildlife Walks using Night Vision
Jonson St, Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay isn't all surf and cafes – head inland and you'll soon discover that this part of Northern NSW is home to some truly impressive hinterland regions amongst the hills, full of greenery, wilderness and wildlife. Parts of this area are blanketed in lush rainforest that remains largely untouched by mankind, conveying a prehistoric feel that offers plenty of escapist possibilities and chances for interesting exploration. One of the most distinctive and interesting ways to do so comes via Vision Walks characteristic Night Vision walk, a truly unique way to view the region's range of wildlife. Using military-grade night vision equipment to illuminate the darkness, you'll go searching for nocturnal animals with the aid of technology that prevents the creatures running away from the bright light of a torch.
This differs greatly from other tours in that it allows you to get close-up encounters with wildlife under the cover of darkness, at a time when many of the more cute and rarer animals are at their most active – the likes of possums, Tawny Frogmouths, bandicoots and more reach their peak of activity at this time of day. It's a wildlife-viewing experience completely different to the standard caged-animals-in-a-sterile-zoo encounter, and thus features nature at its rawest and most untouched.
"Using military-grade night vision equipment to illuminate the darkness, you'll go searching for nocturnal animals with the aid of technology that prevents the creatures running away from the bright light of a torch."
This is helped along by the host/guide's obvious passion for nature and eco-tourism in general, providing detailed insight into the local ecology, regional human impact, and layout of its surrounding national park. Given the small group size and the quiet of the natural surrounds, the Night Vision walk makes for a relatively intimate feel that's great for reconnecting with nature.
Adding to the mystique of the tour is a visit to see the local resident colony of glow worms, whose tiny forms line line the rocky surfaces and make for a view that is reminiscent of stars in the night sky. Their glow can be amplified greatly by the night vision goggles, however viewing them “in the flesh” is typically recommended. Towards the end of the walk you'll reach some tumbling waterfalls cascading their waters far down below, which serves as the spot to cap the evening off with a cup of hot chocolate, some Tim-Tams (how very Aussie), and gazing up into the starry night sky.
If you're looking for one of the more unique ways to explore not just Byron Bay but the natural world of Australia without the crowds of public wildlife parks or zoos while coming away with an experience you'll be able to tell your friends about for years to come, then a night vision walk comes highly recommended.
The Crystal Castle
81 Monet Dr, Mullumbimby, NSW
Hippy culture and alternative forms of spirituality tend to go hand-in-hand, so it's only fitting that it's also home to a long-standing attraction that happens to be dedicated to a blend of yoga, meditation, peace and strong Buddhist influences. The Crystal Castle, located along a scenic drive around 20 minutes from the centre of Byron Bay, is an attraction that will do the opposite to most tourist spots – the aim here is to get you AWAY from crowds of other people rather than joining them. Situated in a wonderful location with incredible views of the surrounding hinterland, the Crystal Castle features a variety of offerings that, when combined, make the experience akin to a Tibetan escape located on the Northern NSW coast and thus a wonderful place to unwind.
Simply beautiful gardens are the first obvious highlight here, and they're exceptionally well-maintained and reflect the traditional minimal Zen-Buddhist styles and layouts of the Far East. The gardens provide various trails that offer a nice, relaxed walk throughout that definitely does seem to emit an aura of tranquility, with the “Bamboo Avenue” being a standout – featuring a surrounding wall of bamboo reeds, the walk through the iconic green plants provides a sort of hallway that serves as a natural wind chime when the breeze kicks up. Wandering through the gardens, you'll notice a number of large statues symbolic of Buddhist beliefs, as well as a range of crystals said to have various properties for self-healing and contemplation including a lovely rose quartz circle.
"Situated in a wonderful location with incredible views of the surrounding hinterland, the Crystal Castle features a variety of offerings that make the experience akin to a Tibetan escape located on the Northern NSW coast."
The Crystal Castle also offers a daily “Peace Experience” which takes place at 3:10pm and provides visitors with the chance to take part in a guided meditation session, and walk around its “World Peace Stupa”, which was blessed in person by the Dalai Lama himself. This sacred monument is designed to represent the passage to enlightenment, with the idea to walk clockwise around its form and thus receive good karma in return. Whether or not you believe in such philosophical ideals, it's still a highly interesting and relaxing way to absorb and take part in traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture that is included free of charge once you've paid the general admission price and thus something you should time your trip here to coincide with.
If you're travelling here with kids as many tend to be, the Crystal Castle also endeavours to cater for children with a dedicated playground for the little ones, as well as a “Quest” treasure-hunt style experience to keep them occupied while you relax and take some time out. There's also a lovely little cafe with great food that is a standout from standard cafe fare, although pricers are slightly higher to compensate.
Serene, relaxed and featuring some of the most immaculate gardens you're likely to come across, the Crystal Castle is the “spiritual” side of Byron Bay exemplified to the fullest.
Whale Watching Byron Bay
9 Marvell Street, Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay's extreme easterly location and abundance of coastline make it one of the best whale watching destinations in the country, and from the months of June through to November these incredible giants of the ocean can be found making their way through the waters along the course of Byron's coastline. The humpbacks, as they make their way from Antarctica to the warmer climates of Tropical North QLD, are very active at this time, and their inquisitive nature makes them one of the more memorable creatures to encounter. While, if you're looking to save money, Byron Bay's headland offers decent opportunities to spot whales – both the Lightouse lookout area and Captain Cook lookout offer a decent chance of snagging some views – this obviously can't compare to getting up-close on the water, and it's here that local operator Whale Watching Byron Bay come in.
Plenty of pods of humpbacks can be seen throughout this period, and they offer tours that depart directly from Cape Byron making for a swifter and journey out to see the whales than other alternatives. These whale watching tours feature smaller vessels that are part-rubber and offer 360 degree whale viewing opportunities while still being built for stability. This smaller boat size also comes with the added benefit of tours being limited to smaller groups of only 12 people, making for a combination of uninhibited viewing and a more personalised atmosphere to boot. As humpbacks are amongst the most playful of the whale species, there's plenty of chances here to get great photos of them splashing and breaching, and they'll often approach the boat out of their own curious nature making for a truly “face to face” encounter.
"This smaller boat size also comes with the added benefit of tours being limited to smaller groups of only 12 people, making for a combination of uninhibited viewing and a more personalised atmosphere to boot."
Other wildlife in both the water and air helps to add more to the experience, as a variety of large sea birds can be seen circling the air before diving in pursuit of a meal, and a number of dolphins also call these waters home. The dolphins can often be seen playfully chasing the boat and playing in its wake or swimming alongside the vessel, while even the occasional marine turtle can be spotted in the waters below. The whales are still the undoubted stars of the show, however, and the whale boats also come equipped with specially-designed hyrdophones that allow guests to hear the mesmerising “song” of the whales as they communicate with one another.
Lastly, while whale numbers in the Byron Bay region are always generally quite high, for extra peace of mind in the (extremely rare) occasion that you don't spot any whales during the journey, a whale sighting guarantee is offered that provides a free return trip. Combine all the aquatic life goodness with some great views of the coast and some of its icons from the water, and you've got a solid all-round sightseeing experience that makes it a must-do if you're travelling to Byron Bay during whale season.
Go Sea Kayaking Byron Bay
56 Lawson St, Byron Bay, NSW
Much of the area surrounding Byron Bay is a designated Marine Park, with its officially allocated area spanning a robust 22,000 hectares and features a number of standout sights to see, whether it's the various reefs and coral communities dotted throughout, or the wide array of fish species, rays, eels and more which populate the waters. Boat tours are hardly the only way to get out and enjoy the beautiful and marine-life-rich waters of this area – activities such as snorkelling and diving are popular here, however one of the best ways to get a comprehensive overview of all its offerings is via kayak due to a combination of factors including accessibility, ease of control and speed. Go Sea Kayaking Byron Bay provide tours into the heart of the Cape Byron Marine Park, with a welcoming, respectful and professional attitude while also being laid-back and friendly.
While some may think that kayaking will be too great a physical challenge, this is not the case here; utilising special sea kayaks designed for stability, they're people-powered vehicles that are easy to manoeuvre, with the main challenge coming with the initial getting out through the surf breaks and smooth sailing from then on out. On these kayaking trips, you'll be guided on a route that is relatively calm – while it's the open ocean, the kayaks are stable enough and the guides know both the area and the weather well enough that both first-timers and kids should feel comfortable participating. It's certainly an interesting location for all ages to explore that doesn't require a mature mind to appreciate; there's a massive number of dolphins who inhabit this area, for starters, many of which will often have baby calves with them – an incredibly cute scene.
"On these kayaking trips, you'll be guided on a route that is relatively calm – while it's the open ocean, the kayaks are stable enough and the guides know both the area well enough that both first-timers and kids should feel comfortable participating."
Whales can also be spotted during their migratory season (often at a distance), while turtles coming to the surface for air are also a common sight. During the kayaking tours you'll also receive plenty of explanation of the local landscape, geography and background on the influence of the region's Aboriginal culture and traditions (one of the guides is an indigenous Australian). Several highlights of the Byron Bay area take on a whole new life when viewed from the water – you'll see the lighthouse atop its cliffs, pass local surfing hotspots and paddle past the multi-million-dollar houses of the rich at the upper-tier Wategos Beach, providing a solid overall view of the region's layout.
The kayaking tours are comprehensive and last for 3 hours, which tends to hit just the right balance between seeing enough sights and returning before fatigue kicks in, plus it's tour that offers a dose of exercise and fresh air rather than sitting on your backside within an air-conditioned coach. With double/triple kayaks designed for safety and sharing the workload, even the inexperienced can come along and enjoy the scenery here, and when weather conditions are at their best its a fun-filled way to explore Byron Bay from the water.
Go Skydiving with Skydiving Byron Bay (Skydiving Australia)
Hanger 1, Tyagarah Airfield, NSW
If you're an adrenaline junkie who's been considering taking the plunge and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, then there are few more stunning places in Australia in which to do so than Byron Bay. Byron's scenery is pleasant enough when viewed from the ground or the water, but when seen from several thousand feet above the ground it's truly beautiful – the blue-and-gold coastal aspect contrasts brilliantly with the vast array of greenery alongside it, although it may be a challenge to appreciate it all when you're dropping from the sky at speeds of around 150km / h. Long-running staple Skydiving Byron Bay provide those with stomachs of iron to embrace this ultimate rush that Byron Bay has to offer, for an experience most say can be truly life-changing.
Starting off with a safety briefing and then boarding the light plane for the ascent into the skies, skydives here are conducted from the height of 14,000 feet. This is the highest allowable altitude for skydiving experiences in Australia – which typically provides around 60 seconds of free-fall before the chute opens and the more, shall we say, “scenic” portion of the adventure begins. It's often difficult for people to express after their first jump which part of the dive is actually the best – the adrenaline rush of the free-fall or the awesome scenery from that high up.
"If you're an adrenaline junkie who's been considering taking the plunge and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, then there are few more stunning places in Australia in which to do so than Byron Bay."
While skydiving is an experience that obviously comes with an initial fear factor, particularly for first-time jumpers, the staff here go a long way to helping to calm the nerves with their professional and friendly nature. They consistently ask if you're OK, and give a lot of reassurance as they understand this can be a true “leap of faith” for many people taking part. Equipment-wise, everything is both top of the line, new, sturdy and well-maintained, and you'll see the skydive staff pack the chutes before you go – something which can be strangely reassuring in itself!
Skydiving Byron Bay's drop zone is located relatively close to the centre of Byron Bay (around 10 minutes by car), making access from most accommodation in town a hassle-free breeze without the long travels to faraway drop zones that many other skydiving experiences near bigger cities entail. As an added bonus, transfers from both Brisbane and Gold Coast hotels are included in the cost of admission which is both convenient as well as a money and time saver, and to top things off this is also one of Australia's most reasonably-priced skydives. Combine both of these factors with the physical beauty of the region and Byron Bay may turn out to be not such a laid-back and relaxed destination for you after all!
Enjoy the Nightlife
Various locations between Jonson and Bay Streets, Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay's increased growth has brought long with it an increased number of venues for dining and entertainment, and due to its less-crowded nature compared to some other Aussie party hotspots has become something of an underground hit with young people looking to enjoy a night out in recent years. Now equipped with an extensive array of cafes, pubs and bars – as well as a few nightclubs and some great live music spots – there's something to do of a night that should cater for all tastes, whether you're looking for a laid-back evening or to kick things up a notch. The majority of Byron's nightlife is situated around the central hub between Jonson and Bay streets, with the compact size of the town making bar-hopping on foot an easy and convenient process.
Which choice amongst the range of venues to visit depends almost entirely on some combination of your age and musical tastes; some spots are more bar-style offerings that are great to chill out, enjoy a beer and watch some sport, while at others you'll have to dance the night away or end up feeling strangely out of place. In terms of places to choose from, Byron Bay's nightlife scene all starts with the Beach Hotel – perhaps Byron's most iconic nightlife spot, it sits in a great location just across from the beach and is one of the biggest drawcards for bigger-named musical acts and live bands. The Beach Hotel also provide some quality meals which featuring pub-style fare that are tasty and good for pre-gaming before the entertainment starts. Alternatively, pay a visit to “The Rails” situated in the heart of Byron; this former railway station (seriously) is a bar that's a favourite of the locals and ideal for catching some live music playing every night, or watching some live sports on TV.
"The majority of Byron's nightlife is situated around the central hub between Jonson and Bay streets, with the compact size of the town making bar-hopping on foot an easy and convenient process."
On the more extreme side of things as far as nightlife goes, Cocomangas in the middle of town is the place to go if you're after more commercial-style music, with a spacious dancefloor that pumps out a mix of Top 40 / R&B style music. Cheeky Monkeys, meanwhile, is a riotous backpacker bar with a reputation for some wild nights, but also is an excellent place to go for some cheap eats - $5 dollar meals are a rarity these days, and while it's not gourmet food it's plenty good enough to fill the stomach. If you're spending the evening here, expect loud music, a range of “contests” (involving water and a certain kind of T-shirt; we'll let your imagination do the rest), and to see people dancing on the tables at some point of the night – a quiet evening in, this is not!
If instead you fancy a drop of quality amber, the Byron Bay Brewery should be your destination of choice – don't let the name fool you, this isn't a simple distillery although they do crank out some excellent fresh beers. The Brewery becomes a great night venue in the evenings with plenty of open mic nights that lend it a more social and communal atmosphere than some other Byron nightlife spots. Other smaller venues such as La La's (dance style nightclub) and Woody's Surf Shack (surfer-oriented bar) round out Byron Bay's offerings, which are quite extensive given the town's relatively small size.
One of the benefits of Byron Bay's nightlife is that, given that the majority of accommodation in Byron Bay's central area is never too far away from the nightlife spots, you'll either be able to walk back to your hotel or pay for a short taxi ride which can end up saving a few dollars at the end of the evening, too. In all, Byron's night scene is an eclectic mix of spots that make it one of Australia's best places to visit for those in their 20's, and offers a number of decent alternatives for older age groups as well.
Surfing Lessons with Black Dog Surfing
11 Byron St, Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay owes a large amount of its history and development as a direct result of its origins as a surfing hotspot, with people having been drawn to the area for years to enjoy its quality breaks and put its surfing reputation to the test. The town has a highly active local surfing community, and at any given time of day a walk down to the shorefront will reveal a number of them busting some moves on the waves or waiting in the swell for the next decent set. It's only fitting, then, that many of the first-timers to Byron are looking to take part in some surfing action themselves – however, if you don't have the skills to give it a go, don't fret: there's plenty of chances for surfing lessons here, with local operation Black Dog Surfing being one of the best.
This long-running and well established surf school combines a friendly and compassionate attitude to newbies to the world of surfing with an in-depth knowledge of local surf conditions to make for a solid all-round lesson. Black Dog use an effective training method that focuses on getting you up first, navigating the waves second that has proven results in getting you to stand up faster – which is one of the first feelings of true achievement most budding surfers get. It's a practical approach to introductory surfing that doesn't get bogged down in the theory that's foreign to most beginners in the first place. Small group numbers and a great student-to-teacher ration means that the amount of personal attention and instruction for each student is maximised, with a reputation for patience for any questions or uncertainties that may arise.
"This long-running and well established surf school combines a friendly and compassionate attitude to newbies to the world of surfing with an in-depth knowledge of local surf conditions to make for a solid all-round lesson."
The actual act of getting out on the water and obtaining your balance can be tricky at first, however repeating the process a few times and with a little guidance and positivity from your instructors, you'll be sure to eventually get the hang of it. These surfing lessons last for 3 and a half hours in total, which is a generous enough allotment of time that all but the most unbalanced of people should have a decent shot at standing up. It's an achievement that can be captured for the future too, as the crew at Black Dog have a professional photographer who accompany them for the majority of group lessons and is there to get some cool shots of you proudly standing on your board on a wave for the first time (don't worry, no one else seeing the photo will know you fell off 2 seconds later).
Private lessons are also a bookable option, and while they come at an extra cost the added personal attention can prove to be worth it if you're having trouble mastering the basics. Black Dog also offer a “stand up on your first lesson, or get another one free” guarantee, which is a nice touch, and all necessary equipment such as the boards and wetsuits are included in the cost of admission. If you're looking to acquire some skills that may just give you the bug for surfing and end up turning into a lifetime passion, all amongst one of Australia's most scenic areas, then a lesson with Black Dog Surfing in Byron Bay may just be right up your alley.
A Hot Air Balloon Ride with Byron Bay Ballooning
1 Old Brunswick Road, Byron Bay, NSW
Want to view Byron's beauty from the air but a skydiving experience a little too extreme for you? Understandable, and fortunately there's an easy, tranquil and laid-back alternative that awaits – a hot air balloon ride with Byron Bay Ballooning should do the trick. Byron Bay's spectacular “Green Cauldron” is a stunning and criminally underrated environment that deserves more national press for its scenery, and this is something you'll get to fully appreciate when seen while floating through the air in the early morning sunlight. An experience that blends scenery and sightseeing with a touch of romance and some of the best photo opportunities you're likely to come across during your time exploring Byron, a hot air balloon ride might not be cheap but in terms of providing views and a sense of scale of the landscape and layout of this part of Northern NSW as a whole, it's definitely hard to beat.
A locally owned and operated company, the balloon guides here sure know their stuff – not only are they expert pilots but they know the region like the back of their hand, and as a result a ballooning ride here is as informative as it is beautiful. The ballooning experience requires a VERY early wakeup (rise and shine at around 3:30am) – launching pre-sunrise is the goal, and with the combination of getting to the launch site, inflating the balloon and climbing into the basket there's a lot of pre-flight preparation involved. There's a reason for this, however: the combination of the stillness and clarity of the morning air coupled with the wonderful spectacle of the sunrise casting its colours of the landscape more than justify the sleepy eyes. Once in the air, the rewards become obvious – you'll have roughly an hour's worth of flight time, and there's an eye-popping array of sights to take in during that time.
"Byron Bay's “Green Cauldron” is a stunning and criminally underrated environment that deserves more press for its scenery, and this is something you'll get to fully appreciate when seen while floating through the air in the early morning sunlight."
This part of the country with its low-lying hinterland valleys produces a panorama of fog-drenched countryside that adds an aura of mystique to the experience, and at this height, the blend of additional views on offer is extensive. The panorama extends from the beaches and coastline of Byron Bay and its surrounds all the way out to the Mount Warning National Park and its iconic peak in the distance, and ocean views make for the possibility of spotting breaching whales during their migratory period. Flying over gorges, patchwork tapestry of fields and paddocks and more is all accompanied by expert commentary on the regional highlights and landmarks, with the staff combining friendly local knowledge with professionalism into a single enjoyable package.
Landings take place in a field and are typically smooth due in large part to the expert skills of the pilots, and putting a cherry on top of the experience is a lovely champagne breakfast at the end, with some tasty food and a drop of bubbly a great way to celebrate what will no doubt have been a memorable trip. Service with a smile and a proper level of passion, a comprehensive 4 hour experience and unmatched views of the Byron Bay hinterland short of being able to fly yourself make this one of the premier option for Byron sightseeing that's also ideal for celebrating special occasions.
Hit the Beach
Various locales across a 30km stretch, Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay wouldn't be Byron Bay without two things: its alternative hippy influences (gradually disappearing) and its main beach that serves as its key natural showcase. And what a beach it is – sporting a long, relatively uncrowded stretch of coastline that's highly accessible and yet remains largely untouched by development despite the growing popularity of the town, Byron Bay Beach is one of the best in the country due to a variety of factors, some of which have already been mentioned here. Great surf breaks, well-looked-after sands and shorelines and a number of beachfront esplanades and walking tracks all come together to make for a foreshore area that's enjoyable for single travellers and families alike. With the golden sands of the beaches sitting alongside some vibrant green national parkland, as well as surrounding cafes and restaurants offering a bite to eat within a short walk, it's a main beach area of which many other towns and cities in Australia would be jealous.
A lot of what makes the beach atmosphere of Byron so pleasant is wise and conservative town planning local council has done a good job of preventing the overdevelopment of the beachfront areas so that it's not blanketed in highrises as is the case with some other coastal travel hotspots. Located directly in front of the town, it's somewhat of a miracle that a grab for easy waterfront property development hasn't been allowed, with its longstanding Surf Club being the only (and necessary) building that inhibits any views somewhat. The beach's north-facing nature also offers sheltered conditions that make for solid conditions for both surfing and swimming, which along with its abundance of parkland and plenty of facilities also make it one of the most family-friendly things to do in Byron Bay shire. Playgrounds, public toilets and BBQ facilities make it possible to spend a full day here with the little ones, and it's likely to serve as a frequent returning spot of any travellers spending an extended stay in Byron.
"With the golden sands of the beaches sitting alongside some vibrant green national park, as well as surrounding cafes and restaurants offering a bite to eat within a short walk, it's a main beach area of which many other towns in Australia would be jealous."
Byron Main Beach is also very well patrolled – a tip of the cap to its crew of dedicated surf lifesavers (stick to the flags, people!) - with safety a primary concern during the summer months. Those not to keen on the water can enjoy one of the lovely walking tracks that take you along the beach on a pleasant little journey around the headland, with extended walks possible if you've got the energy for it. Great views of mountains in the distance along with opportunities for whale and dolphin sightings and a glimpse of the region's famous lighthouse round out the package.
In addition to its main beach, Byron Bay also sports a number of auxiliary beaches amongst its 30-odd-kilometre worth of beach area, each with their own quirks, facilities and characteristics. Clarkes Beach which connects to the main beach is another north-facing offering that's popular amongst windsurfers and paragliders, and is a known hotspot for humpback whales seeking temporary shelter on their annual migration, while others such as Watego's (for longboarders), Little Watego's (for families with kids and fishermen), Tallow Beach (dog-friendly and thus ideal for those with pets) and Belongil Beach (also pet-friendly and site of the SS Wollongbar wreck) each offer something different.
Simply put, if you're after a day's worth of leisurely entertainment in the sunshine surrounded by golden sands, shady park areas and some vibrant, turquoise waters, you'll be spoiled for choice regardless of which part of Byron Bay's waterfront you choose to spend your time at.
Visit the Byron Bay Lighthouse
Lighthouse Rd, Byron Bay, NSW
In terms of recognisable icons, there are few that scream “Byron Bay” more than its iconic lighthouse perched atop its 94-metre-high clifftop that's become a symbol of the Easternmost Point of Australia. It's a historic and picturesque building that harks back to the days of earlier naval navigation before satellite technology and other advances made things that little bit easier, opened back in 1901 and doing its due diligence for 100 years. Coupled with its wonderful surroundings – cliff faces plummeting directly down into frothing ocean below, lovely greenery contrasting with the dark of the rocks, a large array of sea birds both in the air and the outcroppings and, of course, an uninhibited view all the way out to the horizon make for one of the most scenic lookout points on Australia's east coast.
The Byron Bay Lighthouse and its lookouts boast sunrises and sunsets that are famously beautiful, and it's a spot that's renowned for the characteristic pink-purple hues in the sky that make for a truly impressive scene. The lighthouse's extreme easterly location also makes it one of the first places in Australia to receive sunlight every day, so if you're there for a sunrise viewing, feel free to pat yourself on the back for this feat. It's also perhaps one of the best land-based whale watching spots on Australia's east coast, and during the busiest part of the whale season the massive mammals put on quite a show that is easily visible from the clifftop.
"The Byron Bay Lighthouse and its lookouts boast sunrises and sunsets that are famously beautiful, and it's a spot that's renowned for the characteristic pink-purple hues in the sky that make for a truly impressive scene."
Accessing the lighthouse can be done in a couple of ways, the first and easiest of which is to drive. It's only a fairly short trip out from the centre of Byron Bay by car (roughly a 10 minute drive), and once there you'll have two options for parking. There's a dedicated carpark at the top of the main lookout area which costs $7 and puts you basically “into the heart of things” without any strenuous effort – which, given the number of people you can fit into a car and the ability to bring the elderly or those in wheelchairs along for the trip, can be well worth paying. There is also a lower parking area for $4 per hour that requires a bit of a walk, although nothing compared to the other “full” walking options; the road heading up to the lighthouse is quite steep, however, so if you're not wanting to deal with a bit of effort paying the difference may end up being worth it.
The second, yet more extended, scenic (and physical) option is to do the full-blown Cape Byron Walking Track, which if you've got the energy is quite the attraction in and of itself. With a roundtrip length of 3.7 kilometres, the track stars at low altitude and enters directly into a lovely rainforest/bush mix that while gradually becoming steeper along the way. Expect to invest around 2 hours worth of walking time on a return trip – not counting your time spent enjoying the spectacle at the top – and in the warmer months of the year taking a drink bottle and perhaps a towel is advised, as there's plenty of scenic outlooks along the way to pause and enjoy some refreshment. Tours are also available that include the lighthouse on their itinerary and make for a solid guided Byron sightseeing experience all-in-one.
There are few more charming spots that blend a lovely piece of architecture with such a stunning natural outlook than Byron Bay's Lighthouse, and if you're planning a visit to the region then this is an absolute must-do item on your itinerary that's likely to be one of the highlights of your visit.
In addition, if you're looking for all the top things to see and do in and around Byron Bay including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main region section to browse and book online!